Study: Bias, rivalries can threaten UC deployments

Broad planning teams are required to create efficient unified communications systems

Contention and biases among technology and business factions can derail the deployment of unified communications systems that are efficient, cost-effective and simple enough to use so they actually get adopted by end users, according to a Forrester Research study.

The report even identifies the vendors that six factions within corporations might favor based on their job tasks and past experience, according to "The Unified Communications Civil War," by Forrester analyst Art Schoeller.

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Many businesses fragment the decision making for the components that make up UC -- voice, video, conferencing, messaging, email -- and so wind up with less than optimal systems, Schoeller says. "This has resulted in an installed base of best-of-breed solutions, with each deployment having unique sets of inefficiencies," he says in the report.

He describes six factions that enter into UC decisions and names their vendor biases, with Cisco benefitting from bias in three of the six areas:

-- Telecom workers: Avaya, Alcaltel-Lucent, Cisco, other IP PBX vendors.

-- Data networking teams: Cisco.

-- Facilities managers (for outfitting teleconference rooms): Polycom, Cisco (Tandberg).

-- Collaboration professionals: IBM, Microsoft.

-- End users employing consumer conferencing: Skype, GoToMeeting.

To get around this problem, he recommends an overarching team that sets a unified roadmap for the project and that includes representatives of business units.

Schoeller outlines a seven-step checklist for successfully carrying out a UC project:

-- Assign a diverse UC project team.

-- Inventory current UC assets.

-- Assess relevant in-house skills.

-- Develop a comprehensive management plan including personnel and platforms.

-- Create templates of what UC features are needed by defined categories of users.

-- Draw up a three- to five-year roadmap that will streamline critical integration points and reduce SIP session managers.

-- Enlist UC champions to identify and herald UC successes.

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